Menarche is the first menstruation. And the first menstruation usually arrives in one of the most vulnerable moments of life, adolescence. How we live in this moment and what information we have previously will mark how we will live with it in the future.
A few days ago I asked a question: “What would you have liked to know about menstruation before facing it?” Most of you answered me: “Everything”
This is the reality that haunts and conditions us; menarche comes to their first menstruation without knowing what this period is and what the hell is happening in their body. You know that I work with teenagers, by the time they come to me, many are already installed in self-hatred and trained in the discomfort of their bodies and disconnected from their femininity. Accustomed to expendable pain, to pretending that everything is fine, to living three or four days confined to their homes each month, to having their life stopped because they are on their period and they feel ashamed.
A pubescent woman should have all the information about her first menstrual cycle and all the others that will follow in due course, what is considered “normal” and “what is not”, by the time she becomes menarche. Menstrual education is, therefore, a necessity in order for this to happen.
The first step for this menstrual education is to fight against misinformation and euphemisms; “We do not get sick” nor “are the days when we are women.” We are women, we are cyclical.
We should support our teenagers in their growth without condescension or childishness. It is they who bleed for the first time and have the right to experience this change without fear.
This menstrual education should not only come from educational and health centers but also from home. The (little) menstrual education that is received in the schools contemplate purely biological information, ignoring emotional, psychological, practical aspects and even sometimes segregating the children from said talks as if they were not going to live with it.
The fact that menstruation is still surrounded by a halo of mysticism and taboos makes it difficult even for the mother herself to talk about it to her daughters and sons. Therefore, today I bring you some tips that I hope will help you to make this conversation flow more easily.
- Remember how your mother spoke to you about your period, what you would have liked her to explain to you, what fears or negative experiences she instilled in you and conditioned your way of living your menstruation. Remember, how you lived it and how you would like to have lived it, and transmit the latter, now you have a new opportunity. It is in your hands that your daughter can live her menstruation in an informed, free, and positive way. If you have children, talking about and normalizing menstruation may in some way help women who are going to share life with him, to feel understood and supported.
- Think about how you live your menstruation at home. There is no minimum age to tell your daughters about it. Growing up normalizing that your mother has her period, seeing how she lives it, talking openly about menstrual hygiene products, and answering the questions that arise, is the best way to introduce menstruation into her life.
- Empathize and wait for the right moment. When our daughters show interest and feel ready, find a suitable time to answer their more specific questions. Without forcing, let the conversation arise spontaneously and respecting its rhythms.
- Don’t pass on the myths about menstruation that you inherited. Healthy menstruation doesn’t have to hurt. Staying home from pain is not normal, nor is swelling with pain relievers. Even if it has hurt you your whole life, do not predispose her to normalize it. In the same way, the hormonal changes of the cycle can cause different symptoms that can become annoying, premenstrual syndrome can also be treated and learned to manage.
- Simple information. I think it is important to explain menstruation in a simple but truthful way and from a biological point of view, what does menstruation represent, what changes your body will experience … etc.
Surely much of what you explain will already sound familiar and will be a starting point to address other more personal aspects such as the emotional and psychological impact that menstruation can represent, which are usually the issues that generate the most doubts and at the same time the most difficult to address. try.
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At this point, you may need to review your own knowledge about the menstrual cycle and what having your period has meant to you all this time, so that you can pass it on to your daughters. Don’t feel bad if you can’t find the words or you realize that you don’t know a lot about menstruation, we are victims of a system that has always made us invisible.
And what to do when the first menstruation arrives?
- Connect with your menstruation. Explain the different phases that make up the menstrual cycle and how to keep track of it from the first time. It will be a way of self-knowledge and connection with your periods. There are different menstrual cycle charts and apps that can help you better control your cycle.
- Share experiences. Explain your first menstruation, how you lived it, and even some particular anecdote, that allows you to connect and live this first time in a much more positive way.
- Talk about all the menstrual hygiene products that exist, explore alternatives to traditional products together, and encourage you to try some of them together. It will allow you to connect as a mother and daughter and share menstrual experiences.
And finally, I recommend that you CELEBRATE THE MENARCHE. Celebrate it in a positive way, and not as a synonym for the famous “you’re already a woman.” No, your daughter is not an “adult” woman because she menstruates. Your daughter is a menstruating girl, she is a growing girl, she is a vulnerable teenager who needs you, needs positive information about menstruation, to be informed to be free and to empower herself in this new stage of being cyclical, which has just begun and which will accompany her, if all goes well, at least for about 40 years of his life.